Barack Obama and I have more in common than some may realize. As children, we both struggled with knowing the men who provided the DNA that created us. Later in life we both had men who were not biologically related to us assume the role of father in our lives. Given that, I would welcome the opportunity to introduce President Obama to two men who greatly impacted my life.
Most people just called them Buck and Bob.
Born Norman and James, Buck and Bob were of a different time and era.
One began supporting his family at age 8, selling hand-sewn cushions at city-wide football games for a few cents per game. He had gotten the idea from watching so many people come to the games and sit in discomfort on the cold cement bleachers in his home town's football stadium that was used by all of the town's football teams. His entreprenurial spirit was born of necessity. With older brothers in his life who would not work, and a deceased father, Bob labored even as a child to bring home a few dollars every Friday and Saturday night. By today's standards, it would barely buy a value meal for more than one person, but in his day such effort would help provide groceries or pay an electric bill. At eight years of age on this planet, Bob had figured out that if a man worked hard, using only talents given to him by God, he could use his mind and feed his family.
Likewise, Buck, as a young husband and father would rise long before dawn. He drove a grocery truck that made stops from early in the morning till late into the evening, and he only got paid for the number of stops he made. It was a very long day--sometimes 16-18 hours long. Buck would report to the warehouse, personally fill his truck with heavy bags of flour, barrels of supplies, palettes of cans. It was relentless, back-breaking work loading and unloading the truck without help, day in and day out. He did it to feed his family--the ones he loved--so that they could have uninterrupted access to their mom. Without fail, he would rise before sunshine, eat a large breakfast that somedays might be the only meal he had till he was back home that night, and work as hard as any human in America could be asked to. And in the years I've known him, he has never once complained about any of it.
When they were both of the age that was allowed, Bob and Buck served their nation. They were Navy men! And they served in a variety of theaters in what the world would come to know as the costliest global conflict in its history. They both lost friends, saw men die, and survived.